Birds Walks in Patterdale

by Norman Jackson

All images © Paul Harris


The dale has a wide range of habitats, including lakes, rivers, broad-leaved and coniferous woodlands, grassland, marsh, moorland, crags and mountain tops. Certain species are attracted to specific habitats, for example Ravens and Ring Ouzels near the fell-tops, Dippers and Goosanders on the Rivers and Diving Ducks on the lakes. Over 115 bird species have been recorded in the area in recent years - a list of these, can be seen on the PatterdaleTODAY website.


Useful Links

Patterdale Bird List - Includes notes about their status, locations and recent sightings.

RSPB Identification Guide – Helps to narrow the choices based upon what you see. Also good for calls and song.

BTO Bird Track – The easiest method of submitting bird sightings to a National Database, keeping a record of your own sightings and seeing what others have recorded recently in a selected area.

The Best Birding Locations and Walks

Brothers Water

Probably the best of all, at any time of the year, is a walk around Brothers Water. The track from Cow Bridge car park, has the lake on one side where you might see diving ducks, Wagtails, Snipe, Herons and Common Sandpipers, and the ancient Oak Woodland of Low Wood on the right, where Treecreepers, Flycatchers, Nuthatches, Redstart, Woodpeckers and many other species are likely to be spotted.

Pied Wagtail
Green Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Common Sandpiper

Seldom Seen and Glencoyne Woods

The track from the main road up towards Seldom Seen Cottages, skirts Glencoyne Oak Woods, these woods hold a similar variety of woodland bird species but is quieter, so less disturbed and easier to spot the birds.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

South end of Ullswater

The south end of Ullswater includes a number of sheltered bays, with reed beds, marsh and grassland. At any time of year, though more so in Winter, there will be diving ducks, Little Grebes, Reed Buntings, Herons, Cormorants, Oystercatchers, Geese (Greylag, Barnacle and occasionally Brent) and Swans. A walk from the Steamer Pier, over Goldrill Beck to Side Farm and then as far as you like up the Eastern side of the lake, passes several vantage points to observe this part of the lake.

Grey Heron
Greylag Geese
Little Grebe
Reed Bunting
Barnacle Geese


As well as spectacular scenery, Grisedale is another excellent walk for seeing birds. The access road at the start, runs alongside Waterfall Wood at almost tree-top height, providing excellent views into the trees. Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Jays and Nuthatches can be seen there. In the Spring and Summer months, it is a good place to spot Warblers and perhaps listen to the singing of Blackcaps (often described as the Northern Nightingale). It is also the best place to hear, and if you are lucky see, Wood Warblers. The focus of the central section of Grisedale will be Grisedale Beck for Wagtails, Wheatears, Stonechats, Whinchats and Dippers. In the sky above, you will very likely see Buzzards circling and hear the ‘cronk-cronk’ of Ravens. Ascending to Grisedale Tarn and above, takes you into the High Fells habitat. Apart from the ubiquitous Wheatears, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, the High Fells are home to Ring Ouzels (Mountain Blackbird), Ravens and Peregrine Falcons. In Winter, Snow Buntings are often seen and in Spring occasional Dotterel are recorded on passage.

Ring Ouzel
Snow Bunting

Goldrill Beck

Goldrill Beck runs from Brothers Water into Ullswater and is another good place to see birds. There are two sections where a path runs alongside the river. The first runs from the Side Farm Bridge to Goldrill Bridge and although quite short, often has Dippers, Mallards, Goosanders, Reed Bunting and an occasional Kingfisher. The other section is from Menneting Bridge (near Beckstones) to the main road. As well as the same water birds, Woodcock, Woodpeckers and Pied Flycatchers have been seen there.

Pied flycatcher

Two birds you are unlikely to see in Patterdale

For reasons that are not clear, two normally very common birds that you are unlikely to see are Starling and Magpie. Although present at the Northern end of the lake, they just don’t seem to like it down here!

By Norman Jackson

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